There was always going to be a massive problem for the oil industry over the massive gap between its green rhetoric and its recent investment in the most polluting fuel on the planet, tar sands.

Moreover, how do you reconcile trying to be green whilst exploiting tar sands? Even more bizarrely why would you try and even claim that exploiting this dirty, energy intensive fuel is in any way sustainable?

Shell tried it and has been found guilty of misleading the public. The British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that the company should not have used the word “sustainable” over its tar sands project. The ASA ruled that the advert had breached rules on substantiation, truthfulness and its environmental claims.

Back in February the Financial Times ran an advert by Shel to accompany its financial results, claiming that: “We invest today’s profits in tomorrow’s solutions.” The oil company explained it was harnessing its technical expertise “to unlock the potential of the vast Canadian oil sands deposits”, but then added: “Continued investment in technology is one of the key ways we are able to address this challenge, and continue to secure a profitable and sustainable future.”

The oil giant was challenged by WWF. David Norman, the WWF’s director of campaigns, said: “The ASA’s decision to uphold WWF’s complaint sends a strong signal to business and industry that greenwash is unacceptable.” Celebrating its victory, WWF today launched an ad campaign outside London’s Waterloo station stating “Shell can’t hide the environmental impact of their oil sand projects”.

I wonder what Shell is going to say about tar sands now?

err.. its dirty and polluting… somehow I doubt it.